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I took my second cruise ever, and changed 7 things this time around

19 Oct 2023
Calista Kiper

I learned a few things from my first cruise, and decided to change a few things for my second cruise ever.

Calista on Freedom of the Seas

Having learned through both research and personal experience, I was now armed with important tips on how to have the best experience possible. 

And I was ready for more: I went ahead and planned a second cruise on Freedom of the Seas for a 3-night sailing traveling from Miami, Florida, to Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas.

Read more: Freedom of the Seas cruise review

Freedom of the Seas aerial at CocoCay

And this time, I had even more to look forward to: the fun I knew I would have and my newfound wisdom from my maiden voyage. 

In this post, I’ll share the most valuable lessons I took away from my first cruise and applied to my second cruise. 

From packing essentials to must-see shows, these are the top 7 things I changed this time around.

Read more: 11 things I wish I knew before setting foot on a cruise ship

1. Took a shorter cruise


The most fundamental difference about my second cruise was the difference in length.

My first cruise was a 7-night sailing, while my second one was only a weekend cruise spanning three nights.

I had found 7 nights a little too long for me: I felt claustrophobic by day 5 and realized that there was no way to escape the ocean. 

Freedom of the Seas in 2023

However, a 7-night cruise did allow for plenty of time to explore the ship and experience countless events and 4 shows.

Additionally, our Wonder of the Seas cruise had time for 3 full port days, allowing me to experience 3 new destinations. 

In contrast, my Freedom of the Seas cruise was only 3 nights. We stopped at just 2 ports, had fewer events to go on, and only attended 2 shows. 


Although it was a smaller ship, and there was less of it to explore, I wished I had more time to attend events and shows onboard. 

Where my first cruise had dragged a little long, my second one flew by in a flash. I think my sweet spot would be somewhere in between 3 and 7 days, such as a 5-night sailing. 

2. I went to the casino


On my first cruise, I felt a little nervous about trying out the casino. I walked through it a few times but stopped myself from actually participating.

But on my second, I went ahead, got some quarters, and tried out a few slot machines.

Not only was it an activity of its own, but the casino was also full of other cruisers. Once I started playing, I was able to make conversation with them.

With the fewer bonding events offered on this cruise, I was glad I took the chance to try a new activity and meet other cruisers.

3. I attended the Crazy Quest game show


I don’t know how I missed it on my first cruise, but I wasn’t going to miss the Quest game show again!

This adults-only scavenger hunt is famous (or perhaps infamous) among Royal Caribbean cruisers for its wild antics. 

My girlfriend and I attended together, and we had a blast.  The game show host split the entire room into teams, with team captains, and hilarity ensured. I was shocked at just how crazy the show got, but I’m glad I got to experience it this time around.

For those who haven’t been before, the Quest game show is a must-see. 

And if you’re introverted like me, don’t worry—you’re not required to participate. 

Everyone on stage is doing so out of their own free will. 

Read more: 50 things everyone should do on a Royal Caribbean cruise at least once

4. I ate at the Main Dining Room less


While I enjoyed the complimentary food offerings in the Main Dining Room, I didn’t always enjoy how formal it was.

On my second cruise, I chose not to eat in the Main Dining Room as frequently. Out of the 9 meals we had on the 3-day cruise, I only ate at the Main Dining Room once.

On that night, I recognized the menu from my previous cruise. The food, again, was quality, but it was nothing new to me.

Menu from Wonder of the Seas

And we did find that it was a very formal, multiple-course meal. My girlfriend commented that it was a little too formal for her, as well.

We preferred to go to the Windjammer for the majority of our meals for a quicker and more independent meal option. 

5. I didn’t bring my laptop

On my Wonder of the Seas cruise, I regretted bringing my laptop.

It took up unnecessary space. I only bought Wi-Fi for one device, and the TV in our cabin was a Smart TV, so I could stream shows directly from my phone.

I left it behind when I sailed on Freedom of the Seas

This time, the cabin’s TV was not a smart TV, so I didn’t have a larger scene to watch shows on.

We decided to go to movie nights hosted on the ship’s pool deck instead, enjoying a drink in the hot tub at sunset.

Given that it was a shorter cruise and I had less downtime, I didn’t miss access to personalized TV on a large screen. And ultimately, I was grateful for the extra packing space I had by leaving behind my laptop.

6. I packed a wider variety of clothes

On my first cruise, I made the mistake of packing cute dresses and swimsuits. 

I prepared with the mindset of a beach vacation, thinking I would only need simple dresses or beach outfits.

But once I got there, I was surprised at how many other activities I had access to. 

I should have prepared for activities like laser tag, ice skating, and biking. I also didn’t realize that the air conditioning can get cold on a cruise ship; sometimes, simple dresses didn't have enough coverage.

For my second cruise, I came more prepared with sneakers, pants, shorts, and warmer hoodies. I packed the perfect amount, having finally learned my lesson. 

7. I tried more activities on Perfect Day at CocoCay


My first encounter with Perfect Day at CocoCay was just alright. 

On my first cruise, I learned that weather can make a big impact on your experience on Perfect Day at CocoCay.

On the day Wonder of the Seas stopped at Royal Caribbean’s private island, the weather was cloudy and threatening to rain. 

Perfect Day at CocoCay as seen from cruise ship at pier

Although my sister and I woke up early enough to get some sun, we mostly spent our time lounging by the water on Harbor Beach and South Beach.

We grabbed a few complimentary snacks and then walked over to Oasis Lagoon, a pool and floating bar with a live DJ. It looked like a blast, but the pool was too crowded for us to even find a space.

We decided to head back to the ship before 2:00 P.M and eat our lunch at the Windjammer buffet. Shortly after we returned, the rain started.

On my second cruise, however, I came prepared with more information about the complimentary and specialty experiences available on Perfect Day at CocoCay. 

I learned that, in addition to the snack bars, full lunches are also complimentary, offered at Splashaway Bay, Captain Jill's Galleon, Skipper's Grill, Chill Grill, and the Snack Shack.

I also saw that fun shore excursions were offered on the island, like snorkeling, swimming with pigs, and a glass-bottom boat tour. 

Ocean at cococay

On our Freedom of the Seas cruise, I decided to go ahead and take full advantage of the experience. I purchased a snorkeling excursion for our day at Perfect Day at CocoCay, and it turned out to be a blast.

When my girlfriend and I arrived, we were given our snorkeling gear and pointed to the beach at Chill Island. 

We didn’t swim all the way out to the airplane wreck, but we were able to see a shipwreck, friendly tropical fish, two stingrays, and one harmless moon jelly! 

Skipper's Grill

After that, we ate a complimentary lunch at Skipper’s Grill. 

It was still early enough in the day that we grabbed a spot at the floating bar directly in front of the DJ. There, we drank and danced into the afternoon.

Calista Kiper graduated from Wheaton College, IL, with a B.A. in English Writing. 

Growing up traveling around the world, she developed a passion for diversity and cross-cultural communication. From her first cruise on Wonder of the Seas, she has delighted in the intersection between travel, diversity, and writing in the cruising world.

Calista spends her free time reading, cooking, and researching the latest human-interest stories. 

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